1. Religious leaders blast civil rights report on claims of discrimination, By Mark Zimmermann, Crux, October 12, 2016.

Religious leaders, including Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, have called on President Barack Obama and congressional leaders to reject a recent report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that faith groups are using religious freedom as a pretext for discrimination.

“We call upon each of you to renounce publicly the claim that ‘religious freedom’ and ‘religious liberty’ are ‘code words’ or a ‘pretext’ for various forms of discrimination,” the leaders say in the Oct. 7 letter, adding: “There should be no place in our government for such a low view of our First Freedom – the first of our civil rights – least of all from a body dedicated to protecting them all.”

The letter was addressed to Obama, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the president pro tempore of the Senate, who are responsible for appointing members of the civil rights commission. It was signed by 17 people, including religious freedom experts and Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Baha’i, Mormon, African Methodist Episcopal, Southern Baptist and Evangelical leaders.

A 306-page report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued Sept. 8 titled “Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Non-Discrimination Principles with Civil Liberties,” included the assertion that religious organizations sometimes “use the pretext of religious doctrines to discriminate.”

Religious freedom concerns were at the heart of the recent case brought to the Supreme Court by the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious groups against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Those groups contended that the Affordable Care Act would force them to violate their religious beliefs by requiring their employee health insurance plans to pay for coverage of abortion inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization procedures.

Currently, Catholic hospitals and health care institutions have religious exemptions against making abortion referrals or being forced to provide abortions; and religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriages are not required to officiate at those weddings.


2. U.N. Providing Care for Christian Refugees, At the UNHCR, our duty is to help each and everyone, irrespective of creed, race or nationality, who flees persecution or conflict and is in need, By Adrian Edwards, UNHCR Spokesperson, The Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2016, Pg. A12, Letter to the Editor.

The assertions in Nina Shea’s Oct. 7 op-ed “The U.S. and U.N. Have Abandoned Christian Refugees” about the UNHCR, the U.N. Refugee Agency do serious disservice to your readers, while wielding a wrecking ball of tired U.N. bashing and half-informed claims.

The difficulties and vulnerabilities of Christians and other minority groups in Iraq and Syria are known extremely well to the UNHCR. The notion, however, that we don’t care for them, or that the solution might be as simple as removing these populations from the region—assuming all would wish to leave—is wrong and out of touch with the realities of both refugee resettlement and the complex realities of the Middle East, of whom Christians have for two millennia been a part.

Ms. Shea makes the astonishing claim that former High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres was of the opinion that Christians in the Middle East shouldn’t be resettled. This is sheer nonsense. A hope expressed for measures to be taken to preserve the religious and cultural fabric of the region isn’t the same as saying that vulnerable individuals should not be considered for resettlement. At the UNHCR, our duty is to help each and everyone, irrespective of creed, race or nationality, who flees persecution or conflict and is in need. 


3. Changing the Game, By George Weigel, First Things, October 12, 2016.

“The game that consists of renouncing the game” doesn’t mean refusing to vote for president this year. I intend to write in a candidate I judge fit for the office, which is not a description I can apply in good conscience to Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump. But however one resolves the presidential dilemma this year, perhaps serious Catholics can agree on two other matters, thinking about our civic responsibilities over the short term and the long haul.

Mrs. Clinton’s unintentionally self-revelatory crack about the “deplorables”—into which category she would likely drop every Catholic committed to religious freedom in full, marriage rightly understood, color-blind equality before the law, and the right to life in all life’s stages and conditions—suggests that smart voting down-the-ballot is absolutely crucial this year. If the Scourge of the Deplorables is elected, it will be essential, over the next four years, to maintain the tension between an aggressive Clinton administration and the national legislature. If Mr. Trump takes office on January 20, 2017, it will be just as urgent to have a Congress as committed as possible to life, religious freedom, constitutional government, and colorblind equality as a counterbalance to who-knows-what will be coming out of the White House.
So the short-term task seems clear: Do everything possible to elect a pro-life, pro-religious-freedom-in-full Congress, then work overtime to holds its members to those commitments between now and January 20, 2021.

As for the long haul, orientation is crucial and a proper orientation begins with a frank acknowledgment that American political culture is sick. I don’t believe the illness is terminal, nor do I believe that four years of either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump in the White House will necessarily finish off the Republic; if that’s true, then we’re in such bad shape that we’re already finished. But the sickness in our political culture is serious and it reflects the pathogens that have been at work for some time in the general culture.


4. Why millions of girls can’t celebrate the UN’s girl awareness day, Catholic News Agency, October 11, 2016, 3:57 PM.

Today is International Day of the Girl Child, declared by the United Nations as a day to raise awareness of programs and services that are needed to empower girls around the world, particularly in the areas of health, safety, education, and rights.

But millions of girls won’t experience this day, because their right to be born was never acknowledged.

That’s what Reggie Littlejohn, president of advocacy group Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, said in her message about the International Day of the Girl Child.

An estimated 200 million girls in the countries of India and China, where male children are valued more than female children, have fallen victim to sex-selective abortions.

Sex-selective abortions are not just limited to underdeveloped countries – it is a persistent problem around the world, including in the United States.


5. Leaked emails show Clinton’s team should read a catechism, By Addie Mena, Catholic News Agency, October 11, 2016.

Oh anti-Catholicism. You’re always in vogue. And just what we needed to add to this wonderful election journey.

Today, the anti-secrecy and disclosure site WikiLeaks released more than 1,000 emails as part of an ongoing leak of the hacked emails of John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Previously, Podesta worked as the President for the Center for American Progress, or CAP, and the Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton.

Within these leaked emails was a 2011 email thread titled “Conservative Catholicism” sent by CAP Senior Fellow John Halpin to Podesta and to Hillary for America Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri. Palmieri previously served as the Communications Director for Barack Obama and President for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, where she was serving at the time of the emails.

Halpin begins the email citing a New Yorker article on media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the fact that he and then- managing editor for the Wall Street Journal, Robert Thompson, happened to be raising their kids Catholic. The horror.


6. Pope at Mass: No to a “cosmetics” religion that’s all show, Pope Francis’ Daily Homily, October 11, 2016

Pope Francis said Jesus asks us to perform good deeds with humility and reject a “cosmetics” (maquillage) religion that is merely concerned with its outward appearance and pretending to be what it’s not. The Pope was speaking at his morning Mass on Tuesday celebrated in the Santa Marta residence. 

The inspiration for the Pope’s homily was taken from the day’s readings of St Paul’s letter to the Galatians and the Gospel account of where Jesus rebukes a Pharisee for being totally concentrated on the outward appearance of cleanliness rather than on the inner substance of his faith.